Metros, wind farms and skyscrapers: the biggest urban projects to hit Africa in 2015

Dar es Salaam: Africa's fastest-growing city. Image: Getty.

Cities in Africa are growing fast. Over the past 50 years, the continent's urban population has doubled, from 19 per cent to 39 per cent; and by 2030 that population is expected to almost double again.

As a result, projects across the continent are springing up to meet the new wave of urban dwellers. Here are a few developments to watch out for in 2015. 

A brand-new metro system

Testing has started on the US$475m light rail project in Addis Ababa, expected to be running by May 2015. Stretching for a combined 32km, two lines dividing Addis Ababa north-south and east-west will serve 39 stations in underground and overground sections.

Africa’s tallest skyscraper 

 Image: Middle East Development LLC.

The Al Noor Tower is a 114-floor skyscraper planned for the Moroccan city of Casablanca. At 540m, it's set to be the tallest in Africa and will cost over $1bn to construct.

The final height is meant to act as a tribute to the 54 countries that make up the African continent,  and the mixed-use building would house a seven-star luxury hotel, art gallery, spa, fine-dining restaurants and luxury boutiques, alongside an exhibition centre and offices.

Africa's biggest wind farm

Kenya has officially given the go-ahead for a giant wind farm in the Lake Turkana region. The farm will play host to almost 400 turbines, is expected to produce around 300 MW of electricity, and according to a media statement will save Kenya approximately $78m in fuel imports every year. The project aims to produce 20 per cent of the country’s current installed electricity generating capacity when it comes online in 2016.

This will be a wind farm soon, we promise. Image: Lake Turkana Wind Power.

The fastest-growing city

Work begins on a Dar es Salaam highrise in April 2014. Image: Getty.

In a recent report, the African Development Bank predicted that Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, will be Africa’s fastest growing city between 2010 and 2025, growing from 3.3 million to 6.2 million people – an 85 per cent increase. Nairobi, Kenya, and Kinshasa, DRC, are expected to be the second and third fastest growing cities by 2025, at 77.3 per cent and 71.8 per cent respectively.

A city built from scratch 

Work has started on a "new city" in Modderfontein, Johannesburg, which is expected to cost around 84bn South African rand ($7bn). Improbably, it's expected to look like this:

A city of giant pimples.Image: Shanghai Zendai Property.

According to The Business Report, so far they've started small with construction on 300 residential units and a few roads. 

Rashiq Fataar is the founder, Editor in Chief and Managing Director of Future Cape Town, where this article was first posted.

 


 

 
 
 
 

12 things we learned by reading every single National Rail timetable

Some departure boards, yesterday. Image: flickr.com/photos/joshtechfission/ CC-BY-SA

A couple of weeks ago, someone on Twitter asked CityMetric’s editor about the longest possible UK train journey where the stations are all in progressive alphabetical order. Various people made suggestions, but I was intrigued as to what that definitive answer was. Helpfully, National Rail provides a 3,717 page document containing every single timetable in the country, so I got reading!

(Well, actually I let my computer read the raw data in a file provided by ATOC, the Association of Train Operating Companies. Apparently this ‘requires a good level of computer skills’, so I guess I can put that on my CV now.)

Here’s what I learned:

1) The record for stops in progressive alphabetical order within a single journey is: 10

The winner is the weekday 7.42am Arriva Trains Wales service from Bridgend to Aberdare, which stops at the following stations in sequence:

  • Barry, Barry Docks, Cadoxton, Cardiff Central, Cardiff Queen Street, Cathays, Llandaf, Radyr, Taffs Well, Trefforest

The second longest sequence possible – 8 – overlaps with this. It’s the 22:46pm from Cardiff Central to Treherbert, although at present it’s only scheduled to run from 9-12 April, so you’d better book now to avoid the rush. 

  • Cardiff Central, Cardiff Queen Street, Cathays, Llandaf, Radyr, Taffs Well, Trefforest, Trehafod

Not quite sure what you’ll actually be able to do when you get to Trehafod at half eleven. Maybe the Welsh Mining Experience at Rhondda Heritage Park could arrange a special late night event to celebrate.

Just one of the things that you probably won't be able to see in Trehafod. Image: Wikimedia/FruitMonkey.

There are 15 possible runs of 7 stations. They include:

  • Berwick Upon Tweed, Dunbar, Edinburgh, Haymarket, Inverkeithing, Kirkcaldy, Leuchars
  • Bidston, Birkenhead North, Birkenhead Park, Conway Park, Hamilton Square, James Street, Moorfields
  • Bedford, Flitwick, Harlington, Leagrave, Luton, St Albans City, St Pancras International

There is a chance for a bit of CONTROVERSY with the last one, as you could argue that the final station is actually called London St Pancras. But St Pancras International the ATOC data calls it, so if you disagree you should ring them up and shout very loudly about it, I bet they love it when stuff like that happens.

Alphabetical train journeys not exciting enough for you?

2) The longest sequence of stations with alliterative names: 5

There are two ways to do this:

  • Ladywell, Lewisham, London Bridge, London Waterloo (East), London Charing Cross – a sequence which is the end/beginning of a couple of routes in South East London.
  • Mills Hill, Moston, Manchester Victoria, Manchester Oxford Road, Manchester Piccadilly – from the middle of the Leeds-Manchester Airport route.

There are 20 ways to get a sequence of 4, and 117 for a sequence of 3, but there are no train stations in the UK beginning with Z so shut up you at the back there.

3) The longest sequence of stations with names of increasing length: 7

Two of these:

  • York, Leeds, Batley, Dewsbury, Huddersfield, Manchester Victoria, Manchester Oxford Road
  • Lewes, Glynde, Berwick, Polegate, Eastbourne, Hampden Park, Pevensey & Westham

4) The greatest number of stations you can stop at without changing trains: 50

On a veeeeery slow service that calls at every stop between Crewe and Cardiff Central over the course of 6hr20. Faster, albeit less comprehensive, trains are available.

But if you’re looking for a really long journey, that’s got nothing on:

5) The longest journey you can take on a single National Rail service: 13 hours and 58 minutes.

A sleeper service that leaves Inverness at 7.17pm, and arrives at London Euston at 9.15am the next morning. Curiously, the ATOC data appears to claim that it stops at Wembley European Freight Operations Centre, though sadly the National Rail website makes no mention of this once in a lifetime opportunity.

6) The shortest journey you can take on a National Rail service without getting off en route: 2 minutes.

Starting at Wrexham Central, and taking you all the way to Wrexham General, this service is in place for a few days in the last week of March.

7) The shortest complete journey as the crow flies: 0 miles

Because the origin station is the same as the terminating station, i.e. the journey is on a loop.

8) The longest unbroken journey as the crow flies: 505 miles

Taking you all the way from Aberdeen to Penzance – although opportunities to make it have become rarer. The only direct service in the current timetable departs at 8.20am on Saturday 24 March. It stops at 46 stations and takes 13 hours 20 minutes. Thankfully, a trolley service is available.

9) The shortest station names on the network have just 3 letters

Ash, Ayr, Ely, Lee, Lye, Ore, Par, Rye, Wem, and Wye.

There’s also I.B.M., serving an industrial site formerly owned by the tech firm, but the ATOC data includes those full stops so it's not quite as short. Compute that, Deep Blue, you chess twat.

10) The longest station name has 33 letters excluding spaces

Okay, I cheated on this and Googled it – the ATOC data only has space for 26 characters. But for completeness’ sake: it’s Rhoose Cardiff International Airport, with 33 letters.

No, I’m not counting that other, more infamous Welsh one, because it’s listed in the database as Llanfairpwll, which is what it is actually called.

 

This sign is a lie. Image: Cyberinsekt.

11) The highest platform number on the National Rail network is 22

Well, the highest platform number at which anything is currently scheduled to stop at, at least.

12) if yoU gAze lOng into an abYss the abySs alSo gazEs into yOu

Image: author's own.

“For I have seen God face to face, and my life is preserved”, said Thomas.

Ed Jefferson works for the internet and tweets as @edjeff.

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